Thomas J. Ruth, Ph.D., FRSC, FSRS, receives the SNMMI de Hevesy Nuclear Pioneer Award

PICTURE: Thomas J. Ruth, PhD, FRSC, FSRS, receives the Georg Charles de Hevesy Nuclear Pioneer Award from the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging. view More

Credit: Courtesy of SNMMI

Reston, VA (Sunday, June 13, 2021) – Thomas J. Ruth, PhD, FRSC, FSRS, a scientist known for his contributions to nuclear medicine and nuclear chemistry, was named this year’s Georg Charles de Hevesy named Nuclear Award winner Pioneer award. Ruth received the award from the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) at its 2021 annual meeting.

Ruth is recognized for his significant work in nuclear chemistry, particularly the identification and development of radioisotopes for positron emission tomography (PET) imaging, which has helped drive adoption of the technology. He also played a key role in developing cyclotron-based technology to produce the medical isotope technetium-99m (99mTc) without the need for a nuclear reactor.

“Dr. Ruth has been a pioneer in radiopharmaceutical science for many years,” said SNMMI President Alan Packard, PhD. “He began his career with the introduction of PET imaging and has been a leader in the field since exploring new radioisotopes, finding their optimal uses, and developing new ways to make them. Many nuclear medicine scientists have learned from Dr. benefits. Ruth’s mentorship over the years and he’s left a legacy that has benefited the field greatly. ”

Ruth received his Masters in Nuclear Chemistry from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1967, followed by his PhD in Nuclear Spectroscopy in 1973 from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. He began his career in 1976 at the Brookhaven Laboratory in Upton, New York, and then moved to TRIUMF in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in 1980. Ruth started his career at TRIUMF as a research assistant and continued to work in many functions, including director of the University of British Columbia-TRIUMF PET program, until his retirement in 2012. He is currently Senior Research Scientist emeritus at TRIUMF and the British Columbia Cancer Agency. Ruth is also an Associate Professor in the Medicine Department of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and the Physics and Astronomy Department of the University of Victoria in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

During his career at TRIUMF, Ruth oversaw the installation of four PET scanners at the University of British Columbia Hospital and the installation of the TRIUMF 13 MeV (TR-13) cyclotron at TRIUMF. His professional successes helped secure investments in building the TRIUMF Institute for Advanced Medical Isotopes – a new facility that will host much of TRIUMF’s life sciences research in the years to come.

“I am honored to receive the Georg Charles de Hevesy Pioneer Award from SNMMI,” said Ruth. “I have had the pleasure of working with so many colleagues who have encouraged me, challenged me and worked with me throughout my career. Without their support, my performance would not have been possible.”

Every year, SNMMI awards the Georg Charles de Hevesy Nuclear Medicine Pioneer Prize to a person for outstanding contributions in the field of nuclear medicine. De Hevesy received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1943 for his work on determining the absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination of radioactive compounds in the human body. His work led to the establishment of nuclear medicine as a tool for diagnosis and therapy and he is considered the father of nuclear medicine. SNMMI has presented the de Hevesy Award every year since 1960 to recognize pioneering work in the field of nuclear medicine.

Previous winners include numerous Nobel Prize winners – such as Ernest Lawrence, who built the world’s first cyclotron for the production of radionuclides, and Glenn Seaborg, who discovered more than half a dozen new elements.


About the Society for Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging

The Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) is an international scientific and medical organization committed to advancing nuclear medicine and molecular imaging to be understood and treated, and to provide patients with the best possible health care.

The 16,000+ members of SNMMI set the standard for molecular imaging and nuclear medicine practice by creating guidelines, sharing information through journals and meetings, and advocating key issues affecting the research and practice of molecular imaging and therapy. More information is available at

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